In the midst of the historic rain that swamped North Texas on Aug. 22, university students across Tarrant County also navigated their first day of classes.
Texas Wesleyan University, Texas Christian University, Tarrant County College and University of Texas at Arlington started their fall semester during a severe weather event.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for North Texas during the morning and early afternoon on Aug. 22. Each university continued the first day of the fall semester as scheduled.
Texas Wesleyan University
Texas Wesleyan University was still able to function so classes were not canceled, said Tammy Evans-Mitchell, spokesperson for Texas Wesleyan University.
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Administration was aware of dangerous road conditions off campus and reminded students to make individual safety decisions if they were commuting to class, Evans-Mitchell said.
Texas Wesleyan University communicates all emergency alerts through a text and email notification system that notifies students, faculty and staff during weather emergencies.
The campus sustained minimal water damage. One classroom was relocated, two faculty offices were slightly flooded and a gravel walkway was washed out due the heavy rains. All of the rooms have dehumidifiers to remove excess water, and the classroom should be intact by Aug. 25, Evans-Mitchell said.
Texas Wesleyan always reassesses their current emergency management plans after a crisis, Evans-Mitchell said.
“We work with Fort Worth PD and other universities to see how they handled the event and we see if there are ways we can improve,” she said.
Texas Wesleyan has an overview of emergency weather protocol on their Weather Emergencies web page, but nothing specifically on flooding.
Texas Christian University
TCU continued classes as planned on Monday. The university sent out a campuswide email alerting students, faculty and staff of the flash flood warning.
The university told students and faculty in the email to “be cautious and avoid flooded roads” and “contact instructors or supervisors if they cannot make it to class safely.”
“I was in Dallas for a morning field trip at a design firm; we left Dallas during the flash flood warning, ” said Kendall Lebbin, senior interior design major at TCU. “We had to pull off I-30 and wait at a Starbucks for the rain, so I didn’t make it back for my twelve o’clock class. My professor was able to communicate with faculty that I wouldn’t make it back. But, the road in front of my house was flooded so I was scared about getting back and my car getting stuck – I live about half a mile from TCU.”
TCU spokesperson Holly Ellman released this statement to the Fort Worth Report via email.
“There was nothing of consequence to report, just minor water in a basement classroom due to a clogged storm drain,” Ellman wrote. “Classes and activities took place as originally scheduled.”
Ellman was not able to provide more details before the publication deadline.
Tarrant County College
Tarrant County College continued classes as planned.
Tarrant County College Chief Operating Officer Susan Alanis said the university “did not have any reportable damage to our facilities or disruption to our operations or class schedules.”
Tarrant County College did not issue emergency warnings or notifications for the rainfall, said William Driver, director of emergency management at Tarrant County College.
Emergency Management maintained a Readiness Level 2 – High Readiness to monitor the situation to ensure emergency notification systems were fully operational. Campus safety conditions and protentional damages did not warrant an issuance of an emergency alert, Driver said.
University of Texas at Arlington
UTA continued classes as planned on Aug. 22. Some classes were moved online because of the storm, but university operations continued with minimal impacts, said Jeff Carlton, executive director for communications and media relations for UTA.
The university used its emergency communication system to keep the campus informed of flooding and street closures. University police and emergency personnel were stationed at key points across campus to assist with traffic and street flooding, Carlton said.
“I had an early class and when I parked, it was pouring, and I didn’t have an umbrella,” said Abigail Wright, junior business administration major at UTA. “I was walking to the business building and the water was flooding from the parking lot, and I was wearing fancy work clothes so I was completely soaked – so I did not have a great first morning, but it was better when the rain slowed down.”
The university temporarily closed a few streets, intersections and walking paths until waters receded, Carlton said.
UTA has listed emergency procedures on its Campus Operations page but nothing specifically on flooding.
Izzy Acheson is a reporting fellow at the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com.